There is no question that virtually anyone who works could be injured while at his or her job. This includes individuals employed in the waste and recycling field. To determine how safe this occupation is in Canada,Solid Waste & Recycling magazine recently conducted a survey. It sought information from a total of 86 waste workers--mostly rear-loading truck operators--in the country.
Survey respondents indicated that safety issues are due to a variety of things, including:
- Poor weather and visibility
- Poor training
- Vehicle maintenance
Perhaps most notable is that 91 percent of the waste haulers that participated in the survey pointed to a failure to comply with safety procedures that have been established, as the biggest issue.
The variety of injuries and illnesses experienced by waste haulers vary in severity. Where occupational illnesses are concerned, gastrointestinal diseases, allergies and respiratory disease were reported as the main illnesses. Regarding injuries, the main types reported in the survey included bruises, sprains and strains.
Employers can take steps to try to prevent workplace accidents from occurring by creating safety guidelines and enforcing them. Even when this is done however, it is possible that workers could be hurt while completing tasks in the course of their employment. When serious injuries occur in the course of an employee's work, workers' compensation benefits could be sought.
It is not always clear when these benefits should be awarded. In these situations there are times when employers and employees could use legal guidance. A lawyer who understands workers' compensation and occupational health and safety matters could be of assistance.